Germany, France into quarterfinals at World Cup
Germany and England proved that timing is key at the women’s
World Cup, winning matches when it counts to top their respective
With its greatest player benched because of to poor form,
Germany didn’t miss Birgit Prinz a bit. Two first-half headers
compensated for some poor second-half defending to give the hosts a
4-2 win over France to win Group A. Celia Okoyino da Mbabi sealed
the match with a fine volley late in the game.
”We showed class,” Germany coach Silvia Neid said. ”Now we
are really into this tournament. The players showed what they are
So did the Englishwomen.
The team staved off the threat of early elimination with a
confidence-boosting 2-0 win over Japan. The victory gave it the top
spot in Group B and produced a stunning goal for the World Cup
highlights reel, a precise 21-yard lob from Ellen White.
The results set up Germany against Japan in Wolfsburg and
England against France in Leverkusen on Saturday. Groups C and D
will be decided Wednesday, with Brazil, Sweden and the United
States already through. The Americans face the Swedes for first
place in Group C.
Also Tuesday, New Zealand tied Mexico 2-2, and Nigeria beat
The day had the first red card, the first penalty kick, even the
first blackout. But more importantly, the biggest benching of the
tournament so far.
Prinz is the competition’s all-time leading scorer with 14 goals
and was expected to score in her fifth straight World Cup. After
Germany’s best performance so far, it was unclear whether Prinz’s
sullen demeanor would light up again for the next two weeks.
After two one-goal wins, Germany was second behind France and
badly needed a win, not only to take the group, but also to give
the team and a nation of fans confidence again.
Four goals did so, even though a weakness on corner kicks hurt
Instead of Prinz, it was Inka Grings who inspired the team with
One came on a penalty kick after France goalkeeper Berangere
Sapowicz was sent off for swiping Fatmire Bajramaj off her feet,
the first red card in 10 days of competition.
The score of 3-1 and 11 against 10 should have had Germany
coasting. But France came back on Laura Georges’ header and even
came close to equalizing before da Mbabi sent the 45,867 fans at
the sold-out Borussia Park celebrating into the night.
”Now we want to build on this,” said da Mbabi.
England understands the surging feeling.
After a lackluster first two games, England was spectacular in
its decisive match. After 15 minutes, Sophie Bradley sent a deep
ball from her half of the field toward Ellen White, who spotted
goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori off her line. She let the ball bounce once
and lobbed it over Kaihori with exquisite precision from 21
In the 66th, England came up with a second pretty goal when
Rachel Unitt shrugged off several defenders to set up substitute
forward Rachel Yankey for a delicate chip and the insurance
”They were both tremendous finishes,” said midfield standout
With the tournament on the line, England was aggressive and
played with passion throughout, while Japan rarely thrilled the
crowd of 20,777.
”We managed to startle them somewhat,” said England coach Hope
Powell, who saw her team’s ”scruffy” attitude pay off with
New Zealand came back with two late goals to draw with Mexico.
Both were eliminated.
In the worst miscue of the night, the floodlights went out in
Dresden for a dozen minutes. When they came back, Perpetua Nkwocha
gave Nigeria the win over Canada in a match between two teams